PHOENIX — One-third of the way into the 2018 season, Cincinnati has had two managers and trod two distinct paths. The Diamondbacks have too.
After a 3-15 start, the worst in 87 seasons, Cincinnati promoted Jim Riggleman to replace manager Bryan Price, and the Reds have been moving in the right direction since, winning three of their last seven series despite a 5-2 loss at Arizona on Tuesday that extended their losing streak to three games.
The Diamondbacks have won three of four following an offensive power outage in which they lost 15 of 17 games, tied for the second-worst 17-game stretch in franchise history.
“We executed with men in scoring position,” Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said.
Arizona left-hander Patrick Corbin (5-1, 2.47) will face Reds right-hander Sal Romano (2-6, 5.89) in the finale of the three-game series Wednesday afternoon.
The Diamondbacks, who were 10-0-2 in their first 12 series, had lost five straight series before playing host to the Reds.
Among Cincinnati’s bright spots have been third baseman Eugenio Suarez and second baseman Scooter Gennett, who both contributed Tuesday and are among the league leaders in several offensive categories after savvy moves by the Reds’ front office.
Suarez was obtained from Detroit for Alfredo Simon before the 2015 season, and Gennett was claimed off waivers from Milwaukee in the late spring of 2017.
Gennett had a hit and an RBI on Tuesday and remained the NL leader with a .345 batting average. He is second in the NL with 71 hits and has 10 homers and 38 RBIs while settling in at second base after playing mostly second but also seeing time at third, left field and right field last season.
Suarez hit his 11th homer Tuesday and is on pace to set career highs in doubles and RBIs. Suarez has 42 RBIs, tied for the league lead with the Cubs’ Javier Baez. His previous high was 81, set last season. Gennett has 38 RBIs.
“He’s just a good ball player,” Riggleman said of Suarez. “He’s probably, as much as anybody on our ball club, both an offensive and defensive player. He is a really good third baseman. He has power. He can drive in runs.
“I think it is just a continuation of a ball player kind of moving into this prime. He’s been a good player for a couple of years, but now at 26, that’s about the time you see some players really step into their best years.”
Corbin will be looking for his second straight victory after suffering his only loss, 6-4 to Milwaukee on May 14, the only time he has given up more than three earned runs in a game this season.
He has made six quality starts and leads the NL with an 0.89 WHIP, two hundredths of a percentage point ahead of Washington’s Max Scherzer. Corbin flirted with no-hitters in two of his first four starts, giving up only a looping single to Matt Kemp in a 3-0 victory over the Dodgers on April 4 and a check-swing single to Brandon Belt in a 1-0 victory over San Francisco on April 17 in his first career shutout.
Corbin is 4-1 with a 2.03 ERA in six home starts, with 52 strikeouts and seven walks in 40 innings. He is 2-2 in eight career appearances against the Reds and was 1-1 in two starts against them last season.
“It’s a great story,” Lovullo said of Corbin, who was chosen to make his first opening day start and has taken off since.
“He continues to learn and grow. He has really done a nice job of understanding game planning and analytics, and I think that is part of the reason for his success.”
Corbin has added a 73 mph curveball as a third pitch, which has seemed to help. Opponents are making less contact against him than in any time in his six-year career.
After giving up two runs or fewer in a five-game stretch, Romano has been hit around in his last three starts, giving up 18 runs on 22 hits and 12 walks in 12 2/3 innings. His ERA jumped from a season-low 3.83 to a season-high 5.89.
Romano, in his second season, lost his only other start against Arizona, giving up six runs in four innings in an 11-2 loss at the Great American Ball Park last July.